Moscow politician pushed off stage in row over building in historic area

Yelena Tkach was knocked unconscious when a fight broke out at a public hearing

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The Independent Online

A Moscow politician known for her campaigns against illegal construction was knocked unconscious when a fight broke out at a public hearing over the demolition of two historic buildings in the city centre.

Yelena Tkach, a deputy of the Presnensky District Municipal Assembly in central Moscow, had been speaking on Wednesday at a hearing over a project to build a shopping centre in place of two buildings in Patriarch’s Ponds, a historic neighbourhood that was the setting for much of Mikhail Bulgakov’s famous novel The Master and Margarita.

After she demanded the hearing be canceled because supporters of the construction company who were not neighbourhood residents were present, one of the attendees climbed onto the stage and pushed her off, the Prefect’s Office of the Central Administrative District said.

Tkach fell and hit her head on the wooden handle of a chair, losing consciousness. She was taken to a hospital and diagnosed with a concussion, while her attacker was detained by the police.

Mrs Tkach’s husband Roman Tkach told The Independent that she will be in the hospital for at least a week. He said Mayor Sergei Sobyanin told municipal deputies in May that there would be no construction at the site in Patriarch’s Ponds, but that the hearing to approve the project was nonetheless announced shortly after Mr Sobyanin won reelection in September. By law only residents may attend the hearing, he added.

The man accused of pushing Mrs Tkach filed a police complaint, saying he had “accidentally brushed against” Mrs Tkach and she jumped off the stage, after which her husband punched him several times, state news agency RIA Novosti reported.

Roman Tkach said the two had exchanged blows after the man grabbed his wife and threw her down.

Architectural heritage watchdog Arkhnadzor said the two buildings to be knocked down are of historical value, and one is an example of early-20th-century constructivism.

In December, a foreman struck Yelena Tkach several times, threw her to the ground and attempted to kick her in the face after Mrs Tkach asked to see the permission for the construction he was leading, she told the newspaper Novaya Gazeta.

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